Anticancer Power of Supermarket Mushrooms

Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Anticancer Power of Supermarket Mushrooms   Sunday, 18 October 2009

Most people have heard by now about the healing powers of exotic medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake and maitake. But what about the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), the kind that is so boringly abundant in American supermarkets? A study at City of Hope hospital suggests that it too may have anticancer effects if taken daily.
“You don’t need a strong effect to cause cancer prevention. Eating 100 grams or even less of mushrooms per day could have an effect on preventing new breast cancers,” said Dr. Shiuan Chen, director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California. Results of the ongoing study have appeared since 2006 in several leading scientific journals.
Mushroom extracts turned out to be effective aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme that helps the body make estrogen, a hormone that feeds the growth of breast tumors. Of seven vegetables tested, mushrooms had the greatest effect. Other forms of mushrooms (such as portabello, crimini, and shiitake) also were aromatase inhibitors, so one could vary the type eaten to add a little variety to the regimen.
The button mushroom extract reduced the proliferation of breast cancer cells in the laboratory. Giving the extract to mice with breast cancer also suppressed tumor growth. Based on their laboratory experiments, the scientists estimated that 100 grams of mushrooms (less than four ounces) taken per day would probably help prevent breast cancer growth.
“Results from this and other laboratories support the hypothesis that white button mushrooms may be an important dietary constituent for reducing the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer in women,” the authors wrote. “Prevention strategies involving mushrooms are readily available, affordable, and acceptable to the general public.”
Many women who have completed their initial therapy for estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer take synthetic drugs for years to inhibit aromatase production. It would be most interesting to see how ordinary mushrooms compare to drugs such as anastrazole (Arimidex) in their actual anticancer ability? Anastrazole has some potentially serious adverse effects, and so dietary substitutes would be most desirable. But do not be surprised if pharmaceutical companies do not rush to do such studies. In 2007, AstraZeneca reported $1.7 billion in sales on Arimidex. This translates into a cost of several hundred dollars per month for women taking the drug. Four ounces per day of mushrooms will set you back about $15 per month, or less if you buy in bulk. From a drug company’s point of view, the economics do not favor such nutritional agents.
Comparative studies of the sort I am proposing are rarely performed and when they occasionally occur are usually stacked against the less expensive approach. Oftentimes, the information we receive about cancer is inaccurate. In fact, the typical cancer patient is kept in the dark and fed a load of manure…just like the proverbial mushroom.